You’re pulling into the city you’ve always dreamed of. No packing, no queues, crowds or hard-hit credit cards. Just streets to explore, paths to wander and hours to disappear down a delightful rabbit hole of discovery.
Prepare for the buzz of escape that grabs you and makes your heart beat a little faster, alive with the electric anticipation of endless adventures.
You step down from the train – yes, you arrived by train, a first-class sleeper, with crisp bed linens and breakfast delivered to your cabin. You wanted Champagne on ice? It’s yours.
Smiling, the porter magics away your bags and you stride along the platform, through the gate and out, out into the warmth of the sun bouncing off cobbles in a vast pigeon-filled plaza. The rumble of traffic, the babble of voices in a foreign tongue welcome you. Horns, shouts, drills envelope you; the aroma of roasted coffee turns you to that little café on the corner, the one with yellow parasols lining the square, and you sit.
Gone is the weight of work, gone are the worries you’ve carried with you for months, gone is the day to day. You’re in the finest moment. You close your eyes, breathe and feel the sun glowing on your skin. A deeper breath, a release of tension, a smile grows inside. And as you open your eyes, the swirl of steam rises from your cup and the pastry next to it urges you to eat.
Giggles of children pass your table, a scooter screams by and that old couple – a walking stick each – creep along, deep in vibrant argument punctuated by a wave of the stick, a flap of the arms, a creased smile. Lost in their own world of shared memories.
Up you get.
Time to explore.
You turn a corner into quiet. The yellows, blues, greens of old buildings grow around you, draped in balcony flowers dampening the roar of the city. The perfume of flowers, fresh bread and the laundry flapping above is intoxicating, heady. Two women, scarves tied and baskets on their hips, guffaw under an arch, over the melodic echoes of a sole pianist playing some nostalgic tune.
You potter, you peer into windows, you watch locals go about their day. You meander from street to park to square, every moment a memory to treasure, a stash of joy to elevate you back at home on your sofa.
More chatter, more buzz fills the air. More people appear. It’s something you need to see. You quicken, excited. A breeze wafts alongside you before you step out into the crowd. Out into the … wow … there it is. That explains it. A view more magnificent than you could have believed. You’d read about it, seen pictures of it, but nothing could prepare you for its immense beauty, for this flood of emotion now you’re here.
Explore the birthplace of an empire, the Italian capital and home to the world’s best-loved art and architecture. It’s all waiting for you in Rome.Visit the Vatican
Bridges, port, cobbled streets and all the atmosphere you can handle in Porto.
Beach meets city meets beauty in the Italian gem that is the Amalfi coast. *sigh.
Vast views and striking architecture make Budapest the prettiest girl at the ball.
All of France’s charm wrapped up in a Paris’s perfect village. The parfum, the ambience, the Frenchness. Oh la la.
The quirkiness of Amsterdam is hard to ignore on a wander along the canal-lined cobbles and into the some of the world’s finest museums.
On the Med, Valencia is so much more than sun, sand and sangria. Hello to futuristic architecture, oceanarium and planetarium and lots of arts and science.
… and you’re back. That breath of freedom, those moments of retreat have restored your soul, invigorated your mind and reset the day, haven’t they? What about not dreaming anymore and booking a city break at an Accor hotel in that city you’ve always wanted to explore – you can always tweak, change or even cancel if life throws another U-turn in.